802.11ac Wave 2 – The Business Enabler [Part 2]Vincent Karanja
Alright! It’s time to define the 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi standard and explore what it can do for you! In part 1, we dug into technology [read jargon] that defines Wave 2 WiFi, and laid the foundation upon which this article is all about. If you haven’t, please read it first here, and then come back. Go ahead…I’ll wait.
All done? Good!
So, Wave 2. What is it and what can it do for you?
802.11ac Wave 2 is the second wave of wireless networking technology based on the 802.11ac standard. It is an improvement of Wave 1 in terms of functionality and performance, in relation to PHY Rate, MIMO, Spatial Streams and Frequency Bands, making it the current cutting edge of Wi-Fi technology. Let’s explore these aspects some more…
802.11ac Wave 2 provides significantly higher throughput, up to 3.47Gbps compared to Wave 1 which maxes out at 1.3Gbps. This offers great support for high demand WiFi networks that require gigabit speeds making it perfect for latency-sensitive traffic like video and voice.
802.11ac Wave 2 supports MU-MIMO [Multi User-Multiple In Multiple Out], offering greater density in concurrent usage, compared to Wave 1 which supports SU-MIMO [Single User – Multiple In Multiple Out]. This means that multiple connected devices can send and receive data at the same time and easily get on and off the network. It translates to efficient traffic management in an overcrowded network, greatly reducing congestion.
A real world application of MU-MIMO is in the IoT -a high density interconnection of wireless devices- providing concurrent downstream communications to multiple wireless devices. This efficiency results to faster and more reliable wireless networks.
802.11ac Wave 2 supports 4 spatial streams compared to 802.11ac Wave 1, which does up to 3 spatial streams. Spatial Streaming is all about transmitting and receiving antennas and the science behind it. I’ve discussed it in detail here. The extra spatial stream is a significant improvement. The more transmit and receive antennas are, the greater the distance of transmission with no effect on transmission speed. This translates in reliability and resilience in high density WiFi networks.
Both 802.11ac Wave 1 and Wave 2 operate in the 5GHz frequency band. While Wave 1 supports 20,40 and 80 MHz channels in the 5GHz band, Wave 2 offers a wider channel for transmission, up to the 160 MHz channel. The wider the channels, the higher the bandwidth and flexibility. This results to higher speeds and the flexibility to shift across the wide channels in noisy environments. Overall results? Reliable and resilient wireless networks.
So there you have it! 802.11ac Wave 2, the business enabler!
Can it get any better with all these goodies? 802.11ax is in the offing…
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